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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Metaphor Mouse strikes again! The Tax Cave.

Background: the metaphor technique is something I’ve adapted from Suzette Haden Elgin‘s teachings. It’s a terrifically great tool for destuckifying.

We play with this one at the Kitchen Table and at some of my wacky events. It’s mainly an excuse for me to make my “What’s a meta for?” joke, but the results are seriously awesome.

It’s also how I discovered that I work on a pirate ship. Which helped me deal with my hackers. And with my fear of being beautiful.

Last time we turned my horrid Tickler file into an Iguana Watcher’s Guide. Nice.

No iguana taxation without representation! Unpacking the metaphor.*

* Cough, unpacking IS a metaphor.

So. My secret alter-ego has been Metaphor Mouse-ing my business systems.

Specifically the ones that help me deal with iguanas (the annoying things that I expertly resist doing).

The situation this time? Tis the season of the Dreaded Tax Prep. And the not happening of that. And ugh ugh ugh.

Which means it was time to call on … ta da! Cape-swooshing-sounds! Metaphor Mouse!**

** Again, this is is really just me yelling I AM METAPHOR MOUSE to the tune of Iron Man.

Unpacking my CURRENT relationship with this. (TAXES = ?)

What are the qualities, aspects and attributes of the thing that isn’t working (including what *is* working — if anything)?

[+ should]
[+ stressful]
[+ shame]
[+ guilt]
[+ worry]
[+ what if I’m doing it wrong?]
[+ I don’t want to procrastinate but I also really don’t want to do this]
[+ little kid]
[+ I could get in trouble if I do something wrong]
[+ do not like do not like do not like]
[+ all alone]
[+ I suck at being an adult]
[+ but someone will have to help me and then I’ll feel even more stupid]
[+ waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah]
[+ I do like knowing what the numbers are]

Reminds me of?

When I was little (six?), I was “caught” stealing money.

I hadn’t been stealing it. I had been collecting it (everything from allowance to gifts from grandparents to the pennies and bottlecaps I found on the street) and keeping it all in a large brown leather bag at the back of the closet.

It was fun. Like a game.

Then I was hauled into the living room and given a lecture about stealing. No one could believe that my loot hadn’t been stolen.

And really, they had a point. Why would I hide it in the back of my closet if I wasn’t doing something wrong or if I didn’t know I was doing something wrong?.

I wasn’t able to make my point, and no one believed me, so eventually I just apologized and said I wouldn’t do it again. And then they took my treasure.

Is there a metaphor here?

Ahhhhh. Loot and treasure.

Of course.

So what would an ideal story/situation/metaphor be for taxes? And can I relate it to pirate treasure?

Because that would be perfect.

And learning more about my IDEAL metaphor (X = ?)

What sort of qualities, aspects and feelings does the thing I want contain?

[+ proud]
[+ digging for treasure]
[+ powerful]
[+ the good kind of hiding (not a shameful hoarding but a strong boundary of safety)]
[+ sovereignty]
[+ safety]
[+ trust]
[+ commitment]
[+ gratitude]
[+ ease]
[+ people helping]
[+ but I’m still in charge]
[+ I can ask for help whenever I need it]
[+ it is an honor to spend time with what I have been given and what I have chosen to give in return]

Reminds me of?

It’s a cave!

A Secret Money Cave where it is safe — and desirable — for me to be with my treasures and be present with what I have.

So I think instead of “working on my taxes” …

I am going to Go Visit My Money Cave and spend time with my treasures.

And then I will Take Notes in my Pirate Log so that I can make a Generous Donation, nay, a Tribute to the lands that allow me access to their fair harbours.

And I am going to look for various Clews and Seeds that I can plant to remind me that this is what I am doing.

Also, I may invent a silly ritual that is about grateful appreciation for support in all forms.

Oh boy! I wish I ate chocolate so I could cover my bed with gold-foil-wrapped chocolate coins. That would be AWESOME.

Do we have Lift-off Metaphor?


Are we comfortable with this metaphor?

Or do we need an intermediary metaphor to be a bridge (ding! metaphor!) to help you get from where there to here?

No. I think this will work!

Next steps?

Hello, cave. I have missed you.

Reporting back:

I did some pirate iguana chicken stuff iguanability on this one and took it to the Deguiltified Chicken Board at the Kitchen Table.

It was 10:30 in the morning. Prime Visiting The Cave time.

I announced that I was going to light some incense and spread my papers out over the bed.

Committed to keeping this vision in my head. And checking in.

Totally worked.

Took longer than I would have liked. And yeah, some moments of frustration.

The hard was that I still don’t feel very pirate queen-ey. The good was that I didn’t cry or throw a tantrum or yell at my Gentleman Friend.

And the real good is that it’s done. John Donne! Donne! Donne!

Also I made a chart of General DEDUCKTIONS which cracked me up. Yes, it was really funny to be me for about five seconds there.

Would you like to play? Comment zen for today.

As always: We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

We share what’s true for us, and we let people have their own experience, and we don’t give advice.

You are more than welcome to mess around with this stuff and share in the comments. Or not. Or you can comment on something else entirely. Selma and I like you either way. Promise.

Note: If you’re new here and you have no idea what I’m talking about half the time, you’re in really good company, it will make sense eventually, I promise. In the meantime, you might want to hang out in the Glossary.

*waves to the Beloved Lurker mice*

26 Responses to Metaphor Mouse strikes again! The Tax Cave.

  1. Willie Hewes
    Twitter: williehewes

    Awesome. Metaphor mouse may be my new favourite superhero.

    This seems like so much fun that I want to look for stuff that’s stuck just so I can have a go. Nothing immediately springs to mind…

    Maybe something about time.

    Ooh, ooh, teleclass tonight! Completely unrelated but YAY!
    .-= Willie Hewes´s last post … Mascots for Life =-.

  2. Andrew Lightheart
    Twitter: alightheart

    That green t-shirt that I wear in social media avatar-y type places says:

    **Similes are like metaphors.**

    This delights me no end.


    That’s all.
    .-= Andrew Lightheart´s last post … Creating a Trigger List and freaking out less =-.

  3. Maartje
    Twitter: martieu

    I love your metaphor analysis! I’m stacking metaphors I’m going try this on.

    In the mean time:


    Good kind of hiding!

    The kind of hiding that is actually GOOD.

    I’m a hider. I put myself out there ONCE, but when I need to duck a shoe I tend to go all hermit crab on people. And they usually don’t even get to find out why.

    I just put up this invisible barrier between me and them that severs my caring about their opinion, and unfortunately also cuts a chunk out of my caring for them and respecting their opinion.

    And I’ve always kinda disliked that about myself. I’ve always felt like hiding was shameful per definition, and I’ve been trying to wrangle myself around to not needing to hide anymore.

    So. Good kind of hiding. New concept. I feel its little spidery legs tickle all the related concepts in my brain already.


  4. Sarah
    Twitter: sarahbairstow

    Oh, this is the best. It’s definitely going to inspire me to get my own tax-time metaphor! Which is much needed.

    Money cave… treasures… gold coins… now all you need is a Secret Treasure Map pointing you to the (metaphorical) treasures. With a big X to mark the spot on the cave, and next to it, “Here there be treasure.”

    I’m sure the fair harbours will be very grateful for you kind Tribute. I have heard that they accept payment in barrels of rum, too (you could try it).

  5. Lydia, Clueless Crafter
    Twitter: Art_Style

    The money cave is a wonderful place to explore the dark and light sides of our *relationship* to money, which is really a simulacrum for that relationship we have with ourselves, our value.

    Every time I analyze what I do and don’t do with my money, the fear surrounding it, the desperation to spend and to save, the inadequacies I feel I get a step closer to a quiet, stable place.
    .-= Lydia, Clueless Crafter´s last post … Valentine Affairs + Art Writing Alliance =-.

  6. Lori Paximadis
    Twitter: Virtuallori

    That metaphor is *so amazingly awesome*!!! I’m loving these metaphors.
    .-= Lori Paximadis´s last post … tidbits: avalanche edition =-.

  7. Judy
    Twitter: Crazybasenji

    Surely I’m not the only one who saw “cave” and “treasure” and thought dragon. And wouldn’t a pirate queen totally have a dragon to guard her treasure while she’s out apirating?
    .-= Judy´s last post … Lost treasure, hard times, and small miracles =-.

  8. R.M. Koske says:

    You might not wanna buy cheap plastic doodlies for your metaphor, but your mention of chocolate coins made me think of this…

    It’s Mardi Gras time. And they make all kinds of sparkly necklaces and fake coins for celebrations. You might be able to find a few cheap at a local party store. (Heck, in my area they sell bags of the necklaces at the thrift stores because people bring them home from celebrations in cities where there are parades. Recycling!)

    If it would help.

    (And thank you so much for sharing not only the metaphor work in general but multiple examples. I’m still pretending not to see some of the stucks that might benefit from this, but I know when I’m ready to get a little closer, this will help IMMENSELY.)

  9. Michelle Marlahan
    Twitter: lovewastingtime

    Aye! I was JUST doing my tax prep yesterday and DREADING it. I set a time limit, made some tea, put on some music and was still AWFUL. Thanks for sharing your example… I’m going to explore my metaphor (which I suddenly want to call a ‘medi’) too!

    Have fun storming the castle! (sorry, I have Princess Bride on the brain.)

    .-= Michelle Marlahan´s last post … Yes, I call him Bubby =-.

  10. Beth says:

    *waves!* :o)

    I need a better metaphor for taking care of me activities/time. I saw angel refueling station somewhere recently and thought “oh, that’s exactly what I need…” but it doesn’t quite work for me. The trouble isn’t having a location, it’s doing the things one does at the location and taking the time to be there. Plus I don’t want to be an angel.

    But wait, now that I’ve said that. Hang on. Maybe first I should work on a metaphor for me in general, because I do not have one. And having one would be fun, and maybe help me make those needed activities/time feel like they fit in with me better. This could be good.

    I think I must contemplate this. I’ll let you know what I come up with…. :o)

  11. Kelly Parkinson
    Twitter: copylicious

    I AM METAPHOR MOUSE made me laugh. Even my monster had to snort at that one. Thank you for bringing metaphors to the mice. And for not making any sense. Some of us have a harder time understanding things that DO make sense.
    .-= Kelly Parkinson´s last post … The story of my worst client ever =-.

  12. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Hey you guys!

    Thanks for all the good ideas! Coins, Mardi Gras beads, maps, barrels of run! And of course the Princess Bride (anybody want a peanut?). LOVE.

    @Judy – but of course! A DRAGON. He kind of looks like my monster Diki (sweetly concerned).


  13. Allan Bacon
    Twitter: allanbacon

    Hey Havi – I love this approach. I’m going to try using it to get my book draft done. I’ll report back…

    – Allan
    .-= Allan Bacon´s last post … Follow your spark, not that hollow feeling in your chest =-.

  14. Riin
    Twitter: happyfuzzyyarn

    I started doing my taxes, but then some numbers that should have been the same in two places weren’t. And then my head hurt. I’ll have to come back to it. I like the idea of working on it in a cave. As long as I can have tea with me.
    .-= Riin´s last post … New stuff =-.

  15. Nathalie Lussier
    Twitter: NathLussier

    Woo! I love the metaphors! And the “what’s a meta for?” joke is priceless. :) I’m a big fan of puns, so never apologize for that. ;)

    And gaaah tax time! I am not even worried so much about actually filing taxes, as “doing something wrong”. So that’s where I really resonated with your list of stuff. Gah.

    Thank you for this!!
    .-= Nathalie Lussier´s last post … Raw Food Blender: Low End Blender Recommendations =-.

  16. Juliet
    Twitter: julietk

    Ooh. This has made me think about what kind of metaphor I could use for the stuff I’ve been avoiding (bizarrely enough, this is the *fun* sort of writing, or the bit that is supposed to be fun (& which I miss horribly when I don’t do it)). A lot of the putting-off right now is about being scared to maybe get it WRONG argh argh horror. (But there isn’t really a wrong! Except there kind of is… but then I can always change it afterwards… but then what if it’s still wrong…) I think maybe rethinking my metaphor may help out a lot here, actually.

    /me ponders

    Today most of my self-encouragement stuff has involved saying “Well done me!” out loud every time I do something I think I deserve credit for, however basic a thing it might be. Which feels pretty good, in fact. (Hey, if I can praise New Puppy for going to the toilet, sitting down on her mat, etc etc, I can praise myself for sending a scary email :) )
    .-= Juliet´s last post … Sidney the Dog =-.

  17. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a metaphor?”

    I do love the image of you with the Iron Man theme, saying, “I AM METAPHOR MOUSE!” Perhaps my own Metaphor Mouse says, “Heeere I come to save the daaaaaaaaaaaay!” but then again, that’s what I sing when I need to be Mighty Mom, so perhaps I’ll come up with a different idea.

    I would like to use this exercise to work on my relationship with my PhD program. Even that is scary at this point, but something needs to shift, and this could be a way in. And if I find myself running into a wall, well, maybe I can talk to the wall.

    Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!
    .-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … Snowbound artist date =-.

  18. chicsinger simone
    Twitter: simonebernhard

    I put this under the comments for the Playground VPA but thought I’d repost here JUST IN CASE…

    And now the Playground will have a Booty Cave, I hope! Where we can all roll around in our bountiful spoils and be abundant!

    Yo ho ho, hos!
    .-= chicsinger simone´s last post … royal eagle valentine bonbon brooch =-.

  19. Herb
    Twitter: MDarcy

    This was a great idea except…


    De-ducking? Why would you ever want to de-duck anything. You should want to reduck things. Like reducking some of your tribute to support your local ducks instead of just remote ducks. I like the metaphor of reducking much better.

  20. claire
    Twitter: claireofRA

    I don’t actually know the tune to Iron Man, but I am amused nonetheless because as substitute, I hear Mighty Mouse’s theme.
    .-= claire´s last post … Sketchbook, page 3 =-.

  21. Kirsty Hall
    Twitter: kirstymhall

    I did my taxes last month and it was the first year that I didn’t cry – I was so proud of myself! A treasure cave sounds like a most excellent idea.
    .-= Kirsty Hall´s last post … Quick Update =-.

  22. Inge
    Twitter: _i_n_g_e_

    The deducktions cracked me up as well.

    Like @Kathleen, I could probably use some metaphorising of the PhD thing. I already gave my dissertation and exotic male name, because it’s the only relationship I have and when I talk about it at least it sounds like I have an interesting life. And it doesn’t scare me when people ask me ‘how’s P doing?’, while the question ‘how’s the diss going?’ makes me run away and cry. And possibly kick the person asking.

  23. julekucera says:

    How wonderful! Thank you! The appointment time on my calendar, reserved (and moved already several times) for tax prep, previously labeled “IRS” is being relabeled. It was going to be Money Cave which is oh so perfect for Pirate Queens and was about to be taken for mine own use but then…. I am a bit afraid (skeirt!) of caves (which of course pirates are not). But my grandfather was a banker and he would take me to the bank and the most special place of all was The Vault. But vaults can be cold (they don’t have fluffy throw rugs or comfy chairs) but if it was a Golden Vault then it could be any kind of cozy vault where one could have a big red velvet chair and delicious tea. So my calendar entry has been renamed ‘GOLDEN VAULT’ and that is where I intend to go on Thursday. It feels better already.

  24. I love this so much I can hardly STAND it! Metaphor Mouse is my hero. Inspired by previous MM awesomeness, I ditched “business plan” for “Thriving Artist Expedition 2010 Itinerary.” Yum! Getting in touch w/ my own metaphor-making alter ego. Just need to figure out her super hero incarnation ….
    .-= Cindy Morefield´s last post … Studio Stories – Toward an Artist Statement =-.

  25. Venus de Hilo says:

    Ooh, a MONEY CAVE where I can safekeep and play with my treasures! This is so awesome. I had a very similar childhood experience: lovely heap of amassed coinage confiscated and made to disappear amidst much yelling and false accusations. Decades later I continue to work at undoing the false programming that if I have money I will be yelled at and told I’ve been bad, and that any savings I amass will have to be given back (bills, taxes). I’ve done so much inner work on this, and yet still I see the effects of this pattern in my bank account. Ugh. But now I have secret pirate MONEY CAVE where I can keep my loot, yay!

  26. Jessica says:

    I’m so so so late to the comment party but I just had to tell you how VERY helpful this post is/was/will be for me! I have been procrastinating on the dreaded tax prep . . . I mean “visiting the treasure cave”. In fact, I was just going to the dining room (which has always doubled as the dreaded paperwork area in this house) and do my tax prep. But my computer called to me from my bedroom and said “come have fun and read Havi instead.” The universe, being a very funny character, decided to throw this post my way.

    I’ve been having serious problems with “have to” lately. And not wanting to be the grown up anymore. And especially not wanting to do all the paperwork and other stuff I really need to do as the only adult in the house right now. So what I really need is some soul searching about all this and maybe that will help me find a way to turn the dreaded “have to” into the “willingly and lovingly will do”.

    Thanks Havi. You have been my savior more than once in the year since I found you . . .
    .-= Jessica´s last post … Spring cleaning =-.

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